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I'm travelling to Australia soon to receive a medical procedure from a gastroenterologist who provides a treatment not available in the US (which I intend to pay for out of pocket). I'm also visiting as a tourist and plan to go to beaches and restaurants and just kind of enjoy my time in a completely new place. Is the medical treatment visa required for this or will an ETA suffice?

I've never traveled outside of North America, and never to a country that requires a visa. I'm unsure whether the purpose of the visa is purely to grant entry or if it governs the things that I can and cannot do while in the country (beyond working, which I'm pretty sure I can't do on an ETA). I'd hate to arrive and be denied entry if it turns out I have the wrong kind of entry permission. The homeaffairs.gov.au website isn't particularly clear for my situation.

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    What I can tell you is that I have been to Australia as a tourist many times, and a couple of times I had to see a doctor while I was there, and this is obviously something that you can do. My guess (but I didn't even know there was a "medical treatment" visa, and I haven't looked it up) is that this visa is for people who need a treatment, can justify it, and would not granted other types of visas. – jcaron Sep 15 '18 at 21:56
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    @jcaron: The question is really not whether they can see a doctor while there, but whether they can enter Australia if their primary purpose is to receive treatment and they don't have the specific visa for that. – Henning Makholm Sep 15 '18 at 22:09
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    I'm pretty sure anything that is not "working" is fine with a tourist visa, but I'll let those in the know answer, that's why it was just a comment. – jcaron Sep 15 '18 at 22:14
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    @user2097846 One consideration is how long your medical treatment is expected to last. A medical treatment visa allows the holder to remain in Australia until the treatment is completed homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/visa-1/602- To enter visa-free with an eTA gives you up to 3 months per visit in a 12 month period homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/visa-1/601- – Traveller Sep 15 '18 at 22:37
  • Are you a US citizen? – Nate Eldredge Sep 16 '18 at 0:09
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An Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601) visa permits you to engage in tourist or business visitor activities while in Australia. If you intend to travel to Australia for activities other than tourist or business visitor activities, then your ETA is liable for cancellation under paragraph 2.43(ea) of the Migration Regulations 1994. This paragraph provides (emphasis added) that a visa can be cancelled if:

in the case of a Subclass 601 (Electronic Travel Authority) visa—that, despite the grant of the visa, the Minister is satisfied that the visa holder:

(i) did not have, at the time of the grant of the visa, an intention only to stay in, or visit, Australia temporarily for the tourism or business purposes for which the visa was granted; or

(ii) has ceased to have that intention;

If your intention to travel to Australia is to seek medical treatment, then you should consider a Medical Treatment (subclass 602) visa.

  • This is the by the book answer, and since the subclass 602 visa is free, if you're not in a hurry you can play it safe and apply for it. However, in practice it would be exceedingly unlikely that you would have your ETA cancelled if you come to Australia for tourism & medical appointments -- the intent of that clause is to stop people from working illegally. – jpatokal Sep 17 '18 at 12:26
  • @jpatokal If the intent of the Australian government was to allow people to enter for medical treatment on an ETA then they would not have created the 602 visa. – DJClayworth Sep 17 '18 at 18:27
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    @DJClayworth I'm not sure how you draw that conclusion, since the 602 visa seems primarily targeted at people who do not qualify for ETAs. – jpatokal Sep 17 '18 at 18:57

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